11 October 2005

Diplomatic Controversy over Administration of the Internet

Part of the problem of news agencies is that they often equate extremely small bureaucracies with the entire national population. For example, this article in the International Herald Tribune describes a clash between a couple of acronyms (normally used to refer to between 300 and 450 million persons apiece) over the future management of the internet.
Political unease with the U.S. approach, symbolized by opposition to the war in Iraq, has spilled over into these technical discussions, delegates said. The EU and developing nations, they added, wanted to send a signal to America that it could not run things alone. Opposition to Washington's continued dominance of the Internet was illustrated by a statement released last week by the Brazilian delegation to the talks. "On Internet governance, three words tend to come to mind: lack of legitimacy. In our digital world, only one nation decides for all of us."

In its new proposal, the EU said the new body could set guidelines on who gets control of what Internet address - the main mechanism for finding information across the global network - and could play a role in helping to set up a system for resolving disputes.

"The role of governments in the new cooperation model should be mainly focused on principle issues of public policy, excluding any involvement in the day-to-day operations," the proposal said. The new model "should not replace existing mechanisms or institutions," it added. The proposal was vague but left open the possibility, fiercely opposed by Washington, that the United Nations itself could have some future governing role.

The United States has sharply criticized demands, like one made last week by Iran, for a UN body to govern the Internet, Gross said. "No intergovernmental body should control the Internet," he said, "whether it's the UN or any other." U.S. officials argue that a system like the one proposed by the EU would lead to unwanted bureaucratization of the Internet.

Technically, "the EU's" new position also left its negotiating body isolated. Unfortunately, this editorial is pure propaganda. By using "US" to refer to a huge number of irrelevant associations, the authors are absolved from actually dealing with substantiative technical issues. It's rather analogous to rejecting anything Noam Chomsky says out of hand, because he is American too (and therefore an insidious agent of US imperialism). So much easier than actually mucking about reading the man's books.


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